Irrfan Khan - The actor, the institution

Updated: Apr 30, 2020, 08:13 IST | The Hitlist Team | Mumbai

Looking back at Irrfan Khan's glorious career that spanned decades and continents.

Irrfan Khan in The Lunchbox
Irrfan Khan in The Lunchbox

The Lunchbox

Ritesh Batra's luminous film had Irrfan playing Saajan Fernandez, a man who falls in love in the autumn of his life over handwritten letters. The unusual love story won worldwide acclaim and was India's entry to the Oscar that year.

The Warrior


Irrfan played the titular role in the feature directed by Asif Kapadia, whose samurai-esque film was shot in Rajasthan and the Himalayas. The 2001 drama was selected for the San Sebastián Film Festival and won the BAFTA Award for Best British film.


Irrfan's search for a film that could do justice to his talent ended with Vishal Bhardwaj's Maqbool. As Bhardwaj began his adaptation of William Shakespeare's works, he could imagine no one except Irrfan as the desi Macbeth. He tackled complex emotions of guilt, and loyalty effortlessly.

The Namesake

If Bollywood woke up to his talent with Maqbool, the international audience sat up and took notice of Irrfan in Mira Nair's adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri's novel of the same name. He reunited with Nair after two decades since Salaam Bombay .

Paan Singh Tomar


Tigmanshu Dhulia's dacoit drama was the start of Irrfan's golden run. He depicted the true-life story of an athlete turned criminal, which earned him a National Award.

Slumdog Millionaire


Irrfan played a cop in the Danny Boyle drama that won eight Academy Awards. It cemented his place in Hollywood as a crossover artiste. The fact that Wes Anderson wrote a part in The Darjeeling Limited to work with him was a validation of his talent.

Hindi Medium


The prequel to Irrfan's swansong, Angrezi Medium, won critical acclaim for discussing the flaws of the Indian education system with a touch of humour.



It was a proud moment for India when the actor was chosen to share screen space with Tom Hanks in the 2016 screen adaptation of Dan Brown's novel.



In a casting master stroke, Shoojit Sircar brought together Hindi cinema's finest — Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan and Irrfan — for a heartwarming tale. His character Rana's banter with Big B's character Bhashkor was the highlight of the comedy.

A Mighty Heart


He played the chief of police in A Mighty Heart, alongside Angelina Jolie. Based on Daniel Pearl's wife Marianne Pearl's book by the same name, the film retraces the wife's search for Daniel, the journalist killed in Pakistan.



Meghana Gulzar's retelling of the Arushi Talvar murder case had Irrfan play a cop who points out the discrepancies of the investigation. It was one of his best works, and premiered at the Toronto Film Festival.

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